The Trail Smoke Eaters made a stunning third-period comeback against the Penticton Vees Wednesday night only to come up short in a 7-6 loss.
The Vees erupted for five goals in the second period to take a commanding 7-2 lead into the third, but the never-say-die Smokies battled back scoring four times in the final 10-minutes to give the Vees a scare.
“We didn’t show up in the second, and I lost my mind in the intermission, and if we’d have had five more minutes we would have won the game,” said Smokies coach Bill Birks.
Jesse Knowler gave the Smoke Eaters an early lead as Trail came out strong, but former Smokie Sam Mellor evened the score and Cam Amantea took advantage of a fortuitous bounce off the back-boards, beating starter Adam Todd on a back hand to take a 2-1 lead into the second period.
A pair of goals each by Lou Nanne and Wade Murphy would make it 7-2 at the end of two, but, the Smokies did not roll over and came out firing in the third.
Ryan Edwards notched his third of the season – all against the Vees – when he banged in a Connor Collett rebound. Austin Adduono made it 7-4 when he rifled one past Vee goalie Chad Katunar.
The Smokies would chase Katunar for the second game in a row as the newly acquired Brett Hambrook netted his first goal as a Smokie deflecting in a Valik Chichkin point shot to make it 7-5.
Tyler Berkholtz would cut the lead to one with 2:44 to play, but the Smokies could not find the equalizer.
Hambrook will face his former team as Trail plays a home-and-home with Salmon Arm starting tonight at the Cominco Arena.
“He played real good last night,” said Birks. “Just a steady defenceman, blocks shots, an awesome leader . . . he’s a great addition.”
The Silverbacks are coming off a solid weekend of hockey dropping a close 3-2 decision to Penticton before defeating Prince George Spruce Kings 4-3 and the Merritt Centennials 6-4.
“They’re going to be good. It’s a must four points when you’re playing teams below you, when the division’s that tight.”
The ‘Backs scored an uncharacteristic twelve goals over those nine periods of hockey, half of which came off the stick of BCHL Player of the Week Brandon Mistal who along with Steven Iacobellis and Alex Gillies combined for 16 points.
With teams starting to key on the Brent Baltus, Garrett McMullen, and Scott Davidson line, the line of Edwards, Collett, and Berkholtz has picked up the slack counting 18 points in the past three games.
The line of Adduono, Luke Sandler, and Knowler also pitched in Wednesday accounting for five points in the loss.
The Smokies look to improve on their 8-3 home record with a win over the Gorillas tonight. The teams face off at 7:30 p.m.